Kodak Super 8 camera simplifies filming on actual film — but at a cost

Kodak hasn’t forgotten about the Super 8 film camera it first hinted at two years ago. The modern remake is now expected out before the end of the year, but with a new price jump putting it between $2,500 and $3,000. The camera, first teased at CES 2016, will soon enter reliability testing and Kodak is already sharing footage from the first few prototypes.

Two years is a long time between first teasing the product and actually bringing the camera to market — Kodak says a big part of the struggle was relearning previously well-known engineering techniques that have now fallen by the wayside as the industry focuses on digital. The film transport mechanism, for example, has to be designed to easily move through 24 film frames per second.

The Kodak Super 8 is designed to bring back the look and feel of film, but not exactly the nostalgic body. While the camera, designed by Yves Behar, has film guts, a screen rather than a small viewfinder allows videographers to frame their shot. Adding in a pistol grip allows users to shoot without holding the camera up to their face.

The digital interface, Kodak says, is designed to make the film camera easier to use than picking up a vintage version. Interchangeable lenses and a built-in microphone add to the camera’s list of features.

Kodak partnered with some filmmakers to test out a prototype, including Will Mayo and Ian Scott MacGreggor. Mayo says that Kodak’s integration of the screen and other modern add-ons makes the camera as easy to use as a DSLR, while MacGreggor agrees the design is more accessible.

“I think that a camera like this being accessible to younger filmmakers is actually vitally important to the creative community at large because up until now, up until this camera, you had to either work on refurbished cameras or vintage equipment that, of course, didn’t give you the flexibility that this is ultimately going to give younger filmmakers and making film accessible,” MacGreggor said in an interview with Kodak.

Kodak is now stressing the ease of use for younger filmmakers, though during the original launch, the company wanted to bring the Super 8 format back to a consumer accessibility. That may be a bit of a stretch now, however, with Kodak now estimating the price point between $2,500 and $3,000. Originally, it was estimating a price point between $400 and $750.

To go along with the mix of film- and digital-oriented features, Kodak will also launch a service called Kodak Darkroom. Using Darkroom, filmmakers can order film online. After recording, the film can then be sent back for processing and then digitizing.

When Kodak split into separate companies, Super 8 film remained with the Kodak name along with printers and packaging. The company’s licensing options has also led to other products including 360 cameras, the Kodak Ektra smartphone, and a Kodak-branded tablet. The company also recently announced the upcoming KodakOne platform that uses blockchain as a method for preventing image theft, with licensing through a new cryptocurrency, KodakCoin.

Kodak says the new Super 8 will be coming in 2018.

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